|Volume 5, Number 14||11 July 2003|
Welcome to the 101st edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We take a peek at what Asiva has up its sleeve while Dave takes the latest Coolpix for a spin. Then we describe a gear-free way to copy photos before putting our feet up.
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We put aside our natural reluctance to review prerelease software when we saw Sharpen+Soften, the first of the Asiva Photoshop plug-ins developed by Shapiro Consulting Group. The company (http://www.asiva.com) has announced a series of plug-ins that use the maskless selection technology they made famous in Asiva Photo.
Sharpen+Soften is the first, but over the next three months Asiva plans to release three more: Correct+Apply Color, Shift+Gain Component and Create Mask. After that, they're considering plug-ins to handle "noise reduction and other artistic functions," according to Roland Lee, Asiva marketing vice president. All the plug-ins, he said, will eventually be ported to Adobe After Effects and Final Cut Pro.
THE COMPETITIVE EDGE
What makes Asiva's plug-ins especially interesting is the maskless selection technology.
When we reviewed Asiva Photo (in our Aug. 9, 2002 issue) we noted the video heritage of that technology. "The filters Asiva developed for video (to eliminate mattes) have morphed into tools like Asiva Photo for still image editing." The morphing has continued from applications like Asiva Photo into Photoshop plug-ins.
Suddenly a lot of ordinary functions (image sharpening and softening in this case) acquire an almost snobbish sense of what they will and will not operate on.
As Dave put it when we discussed it at the virtual water cooler, "Very slick, you can control sharpening as a function of hue, saturation and value. Cool! I could imagine a portrait guy sharpening detail in hair, but softening skin tones. Likewise, perhaps sharpening everything but the sky colors, so as not to bump up the noise that might otherwise appear in the sky. Or for night shots, only sharpen the bright parts of the image, so as not to emphasize the noise in the darker parts."
Sharpen+Soften supports 8- or 16-bit RGB or CMYK images and "provides precise control over the quality, quantity and distribution of sharpening or softening." You can work in RGB, CMYK or Hue, Saturation, Luminance color spaces.
A built-in Sampler Tool automatically sets the color range where operations should occur, avoiding the need for complex, manual masking.
Asiva has not yet determined pricing.
Applications running under Macintosh Classic/OS X or Windows 2000/XP that support the Adobe Photoshop plug-in architecture will be able to run these plug-ins. Sharpen+Soften was tested on Photoshop versions 5.5 through 7.0.
As with most plug-ins, installation is simple. We just moved the single-file plug-in into our Photoshop plug-ins folder and the next time we launched the application, it appeared in the Filters menu on a fly-out Asiva menu.
The first time we ran the plug-in, we clicked on the Serialize button to enter our serial number. Then we were ready to play.
The interface is surprisingly simple.
On the left is a large, scrollable image preview called the Image Pane. A Preview check box just below it determines whether or not the preview updates after each modification. It can also be used to show Before and After states of the image. Below that is a Zoom control that sits above a Progress bar indicating how much of the image has been processed.
On the right are three graphs or image maps. In the preliminary PDF documentation accompanying the plug-in, Asiva likens them to a graphic equalizer, noting there are three, one each for Hue, Saturation and Value (or luminance). We'll look at these more closely in "The Maps" section below.
In the middle of the modal dialog box are several other settings:
- Operation. This pop-up menu determines whether the plug-in sharpens or softens the selection. It's one or the other.
- Amount. This slider determines the amount of sharpening or softening applied to the selection. Values run from "less" to "more."
- Color Space. A pop-up menu selects the color space you want to use. Options include the default RGB, CMYK or Hue, Saturation, Value. If you aren't familiar with these color models, don't worry. Asiva's documentation makes them old friends very quickly.
- Depending on your Color Space choice, a check box determines which channels the plug-in affects. You can, for example, only sharpen the Green channel of an RGB image, if you like.
- OK and Cancel buttons are at the bottom of the column.
The Hue, Saturation and Value image maps are the key to the maskless selection technology of the plug-in. Each of the three has a common interface:
Each map's horizontal axis is unique:
- Sample check box. When this check box is enabled, you can click or drag a selection in the preview to set the map to match that area's color properties. If you hold down the Option key, the maps will exclude pixels that match the sample (handy for softening, especially). By default all three maps have sampling enabled. Asiva cautions that sampling, which by its nature is imprecise, is only a starting point for setting the curves in the maps. You'll want to adjust those curves to get the best results.
- Reset button. Clicking Reset restores the map's curve to its default state. The Sample check box is not affected.
- The Graph. A horizontal scale representing 65,536 levels for 16-bit images or 256 levels for 8-bit images is complemented by a vertical axis with values from 0 (off) to 1 (on). In addition to the Sampler Tool, activated by the Sample check box, you can directly draw curves or click and drag points on these maps.
Note that the maps are not independent of each other. If you restrict the affected pixels by hue, only pixels in the hue selection will be affected by the settings in, for example, the luminance map.
- The Hue map's horizontal axis ranges from Red through Magenta. Using this map, you can, for example, restrict sharpening or softening to just yellows or greens.
- The Saturation map's horizontal axis ranges from 0 percent to 100 percent. So you can restrict operations to just intense values of the hues selected. By default, the map is set to avoid sharpening low saturation pixels because, according to Asiva, "low saturation pixels (essentially the grayscale) are often sharp enough while high saturation pixels are not."
- The Value map's horizontal axis ranges from 0 to 100 percent, too. Zero is black and 100 white. If you only want to affect midtones, for example, you can draw a curve in this map that turns on only the grays around 50 percent.
USING THE PLUG-IN
Asiva's instructions are pretty straightforward:
"You define the areas that you wish to apply the effect to using the supplied HSV curves.
"Sampling the area that you wish to soften/sharpen with the built in sampler tool is a quick way to define that area. Adjusting the curves then allows you to include or exclude certain H or S or V values for softening or sharpening. Making the curves as vertical or as sloping will define how that softening or sharpening is applied to the transitional regions.
"A vertical line on your curve will create defined boundaries between where the operation is applied and not, a slope on your curve will make that boundary less defined or featheredı. Because there are 3 curves to work with (HS&V[Luminance]) you will be able to 'feather' those boundaries based on their Hue, Saturation or Luminance differences. Furthermore the softening and sharpening operation can also be applied to the HSV or RGB/CMYK components of the regions defined by your PS selection and the Asiva HSV curves."
The illustration at the Asiva Web site (http://asiva.com/plug-ins.html) shows the plug-in at work softening midtones, softening bright and dark areas and sharpening bright and dark areas of a tiger's face. Run your cursor over the three blue ovals below the image of the plug-in window to see the maps change and image reflect the change.
OK, but what's it really like?
Well, because we played with a pre-release version of the plug-in, we really can't say. No point in evaluating a work in progress (and, in fact, a few things we noticed were already on their to-do list). But we would like to point out a few things.
First, there are an astonishing number of variables to play with. The dialog window lays them out so neatly, it isn't immediately apparent how much power you have. The three maps are obviously the beginning (and heart and soul) of it. You are no longer lassoing objects to be sharpened or softened globally. Instead, you are identifying pixels based on the nature of the problem you want to resolve. But also being able to change color spaces -- and then being able to isolate various aspects of each -- can help you escape situations in which you would otherwise paint yourself into a corner.
Second, it's hard to appreciate the interactive masking capability until you use it. Then you start to miss it in other tools. By fiddling with the curves in the maps, you change which pixels are sharpened or softened. Interactively. No going back to Photoshop to redraw a mask.
Third, we don't think of this plug-in as competing with our workhorse unsharp masking tool, nik Sharpener. Nor do we see it as a replacement for Andromeda's VariFocus. We don't quite know which shelf to put it on yet.
Fourth, no mask is created. According to Kevin Gorden, Asiva chief technology officer, "What we do is to truly create many, many different kernels from a base kernel (Amount slider), as specified by the Maps (assuming you do not have straight lines in the Maps). The results are true, variable sharpening or softening. It would be similar to having to run a Photoshop Gaussian Blur millions upon millions of time, one time for every different pixel color, adjusting the radius each time."
Finally, the effect is often contained within the edges of an object in an image. We noticed this in a test image whose background was a stand of Cypress trees. We blurred them by setting the Hue map to cover the range of greens in them, but they stayed sharp against the gray sky.
Gorden explained, "The softening, or sharpening for that matter, stays inside the boundaries defined by the maps. There is no blurring out into colors excluded from the maps."
That's terrific in portraiture for obscuring wrinkles without softening the edges of the face. But what about defocussing my trees?
"Blurring into or 'bleeding' a blur into another color would be a function of softening edges," Gorden replied. "This would be part of a three-way option on a future version: 1) Soften inside or 2) Soften Edges Outside or 3) Do Both."
Once we started using this preliminary version of the plug-in, all sorts of crazy ideas floated into our head. Fortunately, Asiva is soliciting wish lists (you can send yours to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll forward them to Asiva). Here's ours:
- The ability to Load/Save sharpening settings
- Preset sharpening settings for Web and Inkjet output
- Show Selection (using a Quick Mask type of highlight) with toggle
- Make the plug-in scriptable via Actions
- Invert selection (to, say, sharpen the initial selection, then blur the inverse)
- Sharpen/Soften Edges would be a nice edition. So would an Advanced option to use specific values (Amount, Radius, Threshold), often quoted in tutorials, etc.
This is a very exciting new tool. But it's really too early to evaluate its performance. Keep it in mind, though, and stay tuned for the full, illustrated review. Not to mention the forthcoming plug-ins based on this same selection technology.
Meanwhile, our hats are off to Asiva. This is the kind of innovation we all profit from.
By DAVE ETCHELLS(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/C5400/C54A.HTM on the Web site.)
The $800 Nikon Coolpix 5400 updates the Coolpix line with a slightly larger CCD, longer zoom ratio and a handful of added exposure options. No less than 16 preset Scene shooting modes extend the camera's flexibility and the inclusion of a full Auto mode is a boon to novices.
Updating the already stellar Nikon Coolpix line of digicams, the Coolpix 5400 offers a 5.1-megapixel CCD for capturing high quality, sharp images with great color and a true, 4x optical zoom lens. At roughly the same size as its predecessor, the Coolpix 5000, the Coolpix 5400 measures a fairly compact 4.3x2.9x2.7 inches. While it won't fit into a standard shirt pocket, it should easily fit into a medium-sized purse, though a soft camera bag is the best method of transportation. The Coolpix 5400 is just a little hefty at 12.6 ounces, due to the slightly large handgrip and lens.
The 4x zoom, Nikkor 5.8-24mm lens built into the camera provides a zoom range equivalent to a 28-116mm lens on a 35mm camera. Focus can be automatically or manually controlled, with an adjustable AF area. The Coolpix 5400 also provides up to 4x digital zoom, depending on the image size selected. Both a real-image optical viewfinder and a 1.5-inch LCD monitor are included for composing shots. The LCD monitor pops up from the back panel and swivels around approximately 270 degrees. The LCD also flips around to fold flat against the back panel, positioning it like the rear-panel of most digicams. Finally, it can be closed when not in use, protecting it from dirt and scratches.
Following the standard set by prior high-end Nikon Coolpix digicams, the Coolpix 5400 features extensive exposure control. Full Auto, Program AE, Flexible Program AE, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Manual exposure modes are available, each with a wide range of features.
There's also a Scene mode, offering 16 preset scenes, useful for shooting in less than optimum exposure conditions. Available scenes are Portrait, Party/Indoor, Night Portrait, Beach/Snow, Landscape, Sunset, Night Landscape, Museum, Fireworks Show, Close Up, Copy, Back Light, Sports, Panorama Assist and Dusk/Dawn.
Shutter speeds range from 1/4000 to eight seconds, with a Bulb setting for exposures up to 10 minutes. In Ultra High Speed Continuous mode, however, the maximum shutter speed is 1/8000 second. A Noise Reduction option decreases image noise that would normally be present in long exposures. Maximum aperture is f2.8 to f4.6, depending on the zoom setting, and is adjustable in 1/3 EV steps. Four metering options are available, including 256-Segment Matrix, Center-Weighted, Spot and AF Spot (which ties the metering spot to the selected AF area). ISO can be set to a range of values, including Auto, 50, 100, 200 and 400. The camera's adjustable White Balance setting offers Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Incandescent, Fluorescent, Speedlight, Shade or Preset (which allows you to manually adjust the white value). Additionally, all white balance settings can be adjusted -3 to +3 units on an arbitrary scale. A White Balance Bracketing mode captures three images with slightly different white balance adjustments.
Exposure compensation is adjustable from -2 to +2 exposure equivalents in one-third step increments and is controllable in all exposure modes except Manual, where it isn't needed. The Auto Bracketing feature takes three or five shots of the same subject with varying exposure values determined either by the photographer in Manual mode or by the camera in all other modes, with variable exposure steps between shots. Best Shot Select snaps multiple images and then automatically picks the sharpest, making it feasible to handhold the camera for surprisingly long exposures. The Quick Review button lets you quickly check the last shot taken without leaving Record mode, going so far as to make the most of the Playback mode options available, while permitting a very quick return to shooting. Through the camera's settings menu, you can adjust the image sharpness and color saturation and an Image Adjustment menu offers contrast adjustments as well. Additionally, the Coolpix 5400 allows you to save two sets of user settings for focus, exposure and other camera options, for rapid recall via the setup menu. A Self-Timer mode offers a three or 10-second countdown before firing the shutter. The camera's built-in flash operates in Auto, Flash Cancel, Anytime Flash, Red-Eye Reduction, Slow-Sync and Rear Curtain Sync modes. And an external flash hot shoe accommodates a more powerful external flash unit.
Continuous L, Continuous H, Ultra High Speed Continuous, Multi-Shot 16 and 5-Shot Buffer modes offer a range of sequence shooting speeds. Continuous L mode captures as many as three frames, at three frames per second. Continuous H mode captures as many as four frames, at three frames per second. In Ultra High Speed Continuous mode, the Coolpix 5400 captures as many as 100 frames at 30 frames per second, in the QVGA resolution size. Multi-Shot 16 mode subdivides the image area into 16 sections and captured a "mini-movie" of small images (400x300 resolution), which fills-in a 4x4 array within a single high-resolution image as the shooting progressed. Frame rates in Multi-Shot 16 are as fast as five frames per second. In 5-Shot Buffer mode the camera saves only the last five frames of a continuous sequence.
Movie mode records moving images with sound for as long as 180 seconds (depending on available memory space) at the 320x240-pixel resolution setting and as long as 90 seconds at 640x480 pixels. A Time Lapse Movie mode lets you capture images at specified intervals, much like traditional time-lapse photography. Additionally, an audio recording feature lets you record 20-second sound clips to accompany captured images in Playback mode.
The Coolpix 5400 stores images on CompactFlash cards (Type I or II) and a 16-MB card is packaged with the camera. The camera is compatible with the IBM Microdrive as well. File formats include several levels of compressed JPEG files as well as an uncompressed TIFF mode (Hi quality setting). Available image sizes are 2592x1944; 3:2 Ratio; 1600x1200; 1280x960; 1024x768; and 640x480 pixels. A Video Out jack allows the camera to be connected to a television set, for larger screen image review.
A rechargeable EN-EL1 lithium-ion battery pack powers the camera and an AC adapter is available as a separate accessory. The battery and charger are included in the box with the Coolpix 5400. The camera connects to a computer via the included USB cable and the accompanying Nikon View software provides image downloading and organizing capabilities for both Windows and Macintosh computers.
LONG EXPOSURES & NOISE
I mentioned earlier that the Coolpix 5400 has a Bulb exposure mode for exposures as long as 10 minutes. That is an exceptionally long exposure time, but would normally be almost useless due to the amount of CCD noise that can accumulate during that interval.
But like other recent Coolpix models, the 5400 uses a noise reduction technology that appears to use a form of "dark frame subtraction," whereby a second exposure is snapped immediately after the first, but with the shutter closed. The pattern of noise in this "dark frame" is then subtracted from the image itself, resulting in a drastic reduction in apparent noise levels. I suspect that the actual algorithm is more complex than simple subtraction though, involving data substitution to prevent black pixels where the noise current saturated the CCD photosite. Noise Reduction is enabled via a menu option and applied to any exposure longer than 1/4 second.
SHUTTER LAG/CYCLE TIMES
Shutter lag in full autofocus is a little on the slow side of average for high-end consumer cameras. Nikon had touted very fast shutter delay before the camera came out, but the full-autofocus numbers really don't qualify. Shutter lag in manual focus is also somewhat leisurely.
The original Coolpix 5000 model was an exceptional digicam, well suited to both the prosumer and amateur markets, and the Coolpix 5400 fills its shoes nicely. The slightly larger, 5.1-megapixel CCD and 4x optical zoom lens are benefits in themselves, but the Coolpix 5400 also offers increased exposure options. The 16-setting Scene mode is perfect for common, yet challenging, shooting situations and the full Auto exposure mode is a great starting point for novices. With the Coolpix name and excellent Nikon features, the 5400 should do quite well for itself.
At http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEW1.HTM you can keep track of what's new on our main site. Among the highlights since the last issue:
- Reviewed: Ricoh Caplio RR30 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/RR30/RR3A.HTM)
- Review Updated: Sony DSC-V1 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/V1/V1A.HTM)
- Reviewed: Kodak EasyShare DX6340 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/DX6340/D63A.HTM)
This happens to us a lot. We visit someone for dinner, have coffee and get comfortable with a little after dinner drink. That's when they just happen to mention this old photo they love and wish they could share with the rest of the family.
"Want to do it now?" we leap up, spilling our festive libation on their new rug while reaching for our digicam.
We aren't big fans of taking frames apart, but if you can excise the picture from the frame, do it. The glass is a killer, adding thought-less reflections and faking brilliance with glare.
Then find the brightest room in the house. Especially at night. We tend to end up in the kitchen.
You need a piece of white paper, too.
Set your digicam to 1/60 second to avoid blurriness from camera movement while the shutter is open. If you haven't indulged in festive libations, you might even get away with 1/30.
If your digicam doesn't have a shutter setting (just auto exposure, say), set the EV to underexpose. A lot. It's more important to avoid blur, which can't be fixed, than to avoid underexposure, which can.
You may need macro mode to copy small pictures.
And turn off that flash. You'll get a big white spot near the middle of the image if you don't.
Kitchen lighting varies (which is why we often dine under candlelight in another room), but you'll have to live with it.
Problem one with kitchen lighting is to find overhead light that is not direct. You want to avoid the flash-like glare you get shooting directly under bare bulb fixtures. Try to move around, angle the picture, anything until the image in your LCD monitor seems evenly illuminated.
We had an impossible situation once, not finding any glare-free spot that was bright enough to shoot. So we asked for help. Our assistant held the piece of white paper between the light and the image, effectively diffusing it over the print.
When we found the best spot to shoot, we put the white sheet of paper over the photo. If your digicam lets you set the white balance, this is the time to do it. Just point it at the white paper and tell it to use that for white.
Then, with the light diffused by the paper sheet, we framed the image and took a shot or two, trying to crop the image in the camera (to avoid any image rotation or resizing later).
Then it was just a matter of copying the file to their computer (you may prefer to email it later, after a little computer magic to adjust the levels and sharpen the image).
And what did they do with that priceless image? They uploaded it to Ofoto, printed it as a greeting card and sent it to everyone.
Visit the Imaging Resource discussion forums at http://www.photo-forums.com to find out what people are saying about the latest digicams, hard-to-find accessories, friendly suppliers, clever techniques, you name it! Recent hot topics include:
Read about the Canon EOS 10D at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee92fbe
Visit the Sony Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6f789
Alex asks for camera suggestions at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee9349d/0
Bob asks about pixel size versus print size at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee935f8/0
Visit the Techniques Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6b325
"That isn't fair!" screamed the neighbor tyke playing in his yard late one morning. "You made me fall!!!" His mother was patient with him. But he insisted.
We took advantage of the disruption to put our feet up and reflect on a recent trend that bears a striking resemblance to the tykeıs predicament. Sometimes you lose. What do you do about it?
Take Adobe for example. Stung by Apple's new releases of iMovie, Final Cut Express and Final Cut Pro, they recently released a suite of video editing products only for Windows -- including the new version of Premiere. Previously they decided not to compete with Apple's iPhoto, releasing Photoshop Album only for Windows. Explanation? You made me fall.
Or take Microsoft. Please. They weren't exactly stung, but they heard the buzz from Apple's new browser Safari. Rather than ignore the little pest, they ran for cover, releasing a new version of Explorer only for Windows and announcing the Mac version would only get maintenance releases from now on. Why? You made me fall.
This counts as a trend in our book.
We've long appreciated our shallow devotion to simple principles like democracy and free enterprise. We like democracy until our guy loses, then we buy signatures for a recall. We like free enterprise until someone else does it cheaper and better and out-sells us -- then we want tariffs and government protection.
Hey, we're flexible. Who was it said consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds?
Of course, there's this little problem about changing the rules when you're losing that bugs us. The rules is the rules, not some highfalutin principle you can flout at your convenience. We live by the rules.
Well, you live by them if you intend to compete. Adobe and Microsoft seem to have other intentions.
Apple isn't fair, they seem to think, so they're taking their ball and going home. Which strikes us as a bit drastic. We'd recommend what our tykeıs mother finally resorted to. A time out.
After all, there are customers out here who deserve a little consideration.
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You can email us at email@example.com. You can read our Letters policy at http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS in the FAQ.
Your explanation of spam and spammers was right on! Yahoo mail puts spam in a bulk folder that you can delete with one mouse click ... neat. You folks are always welcome in my In Box!
-- Charlie Young
I've just read your article about spam and other unwanted communications. I have a tip to prevent mass mailouts from address-books.
Enter as an address: AAA!000.
The AAA part will put it at the top of your address list, so it will be the first address a malicious miner will attempt to post to. The 000 (numerals) will trap it, preventing it going any further into your address list.
It works! I'm not sure how, (being on the wrong side of 50, I'm a bit slow to understand these PC thingys) but all my friends report that since they entered those seven keystrokes, they've had no angry replies from people who've been infected via their address book.
You will probably immediately understand how it works; let's hope the spammers don't figure a way to overcome it too soon.
Anyone who knows/cares enough to say "we were raised right" was indeed "raised right"!!! Keep up the good work!
I don't get anywhere near as much junk as do some friends. I check email frequently to cut down exposure, about five minutes 6-8 times a day. In addition to limiting time, I never open an attachment with an EXE or unfamiliar extension. Never. When going off line, I clear cookies, temp files and history in the Outlook tools menu.
The IR newsletter is a better source for digital imaging information than most photography mags. Keep publishing!
I appreciated the spamming info. I realize the newsletter takes time, a human's most valuable resource, which runs out for all of us sometime!! Just want to let you know I always read it and sometimes find a nugget or two. Well done (don't bother replying, takes up time and it's me thanking you for yours).
I appreciate your newsletter ... always read it, even though I don't always understand it.
I DO understand your pro-active anti-spamming info, however and thank you for including it in your recent newsletter.
-- Greyest Fox
I was very surprised to see someone accusing you of selling their email address.
The way you "talk" in your newsletters; the way you go about explaining things; you guys are great about responding quickly to email, while being very helpful in providing solutions regarding almost anything digital! Even your brand of humor.... Everything about you suggests that you are "stand up" guys and would never do anything to betray our trust in you -- even the way you defended yourselves against the accusation. Anyone could see that you took it personally and wanted to make sure we all knew you wouldn't do such a thing. Just wanted to let you know that there are LOTS of people out here that love ya -- don't worry about one guy who was ignorant or misinformed.
Keep up the great work. Congrats on Newsletter 100!
-- Janet K.
I brought up this subject at a recent PTA meeting and was informed by a fellow parent of a non-profit organization called Remove.org (http://www.remove.org). They are dedicated to stopping spam and pornography in email. They actually shut down irresponsible marketers who send adult related material and spam.
I have registered my email address with Remove.org and have been very pleased with the results. I would encourage you to do so as well, especially if your child has his own email account.
-- Lori Butler
I would consider your email about as far as humanly possible in the opposite direction from Spam....!!!
Your Email is NEVER Spam.
It arrives regularly and reliably, I read it from beginning to end, I read the reviews, I buy products that you recommend, it is REQUIRED reading for anyone seriously interested in digital photography..
I know Spam when I see it and your email is NEVER Spam.
Keep up the good work.... AND THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU....
-- Dick Morris(Did we ever mention that the Letters section is our favorite part of the newsletter? You guys are great! -- Editor)
Thanks for producing one fine on line publication. It is always loaded.
I team teach a beginning digital camera class at our local chamber's tech group. It's a sell out, every session. (http://www.shiawasseechamber.org/bricks/dp.shtm).
We reference you as a resource for our class and on the Web site at http://www.shiawasseechamber.org/bricks/dp1.shtm
But, here's the point of this email.
The ever-expanding megapixel race implies better images. To me, it ignores the most basic image enhancement need, camera stability.
Sony's Mavica design improvement progression seems to have stopped at the CD-1000. Sure the 300 and 500 gave more pixels in the CCD but lacks the main progression to good pictures. An Image Stabilized Lens.
The video world is full of stabilized lenses and all the reviews list this in every summary. But not the digital camera reviews.
Why is it ignored? What can we do to help the public produce better photos with a stabilized lens. Are there any stabilized lenses beside the Mavica MVC CD1000?
-- David(Olympus used to make one and it is highly prized. It was also expensive. And bulky. And that meant sales were far lower than for the smaller, cuter models. So guess what? But I don't think they've entirely abandoned the idea. Fingers crossed. -- Editor)
RE: Shaky Little Shots
I am very curious about your statement, "Best Shot Selector (Nikon) evaluates several images shot at the same time, saving the largest (which, by definition, will be the least shaky)."
I am still trying to work out why some shots turn out larger than others even though they are shot with the same settings. I had it in mind that two photos that were 2560x1920x24b would be exactly the same size, but it doesnıt turn out that way. I thought maybe your statement above might explain this somewhat if I could understand it.
-- Judith(They start out the same size but when they are compressed, the shot with more detail will compress less, hence the larger size. Try it by taking a shot of the sky (or just covering the lens) and then another of the garden or the kitchen (something with a good deal more detail). The first will be a much smaller file than the second. BSS uses that trick to determine which of several similar images has the most detail -- and is therefore the sharpest. -- Editor)
RE: E1 Questions
In your review of the E1 you mention the ability to correct for geometric distortion and vignetting and I agree that this is a good feature -- it might even deserve the adjective "breakthrough." You also mention that it can't fix chromatic aberration. But wouldn't that simply require separate geometric distortion parameters for each color? Or is it that CA requires too fine a correction to be practical?
-- Greg(Good question. I think you can get close to correcting CA by doing what you suggest, but from what I've seen, CA is often somewhat non-linear. OTOH, you can indeed get pretty close by just doing a standard spherical correction on each of the channels separately. It's even possible that the E1 does (or could do) this, but I didn't hear any mention made of it. I agree with your characterization of this feature as a "breakthrough," but tend to be a little careful throwing terms like that around, as I recognize in myself a tendency to get over-enthusiastic about each new piece of technology that comes along. But the whole concept of using CPU power in the camera to correct for optical issues in the lenses really is revolutionary.... -- Dave)
Where's the pop-up flash on the Olympus E-1??? If they really wanted to beat out the competition, what were they thinking?
-- Arthur(They probably think that pros bring their own light to the job. -- Editor)
RE: Wal-Mart Prints
I decided to try sticking my CompactFlash card in the Wal-Mart printer instead of in my Epson SP 925. The result was OK and it might even be less expensive than printing at home, but I preferred my more vibrant home prints. Perhaps the communication of Exif II data by my Coolpix 5000 and Epson SP 925 was responsible -- and/or possibly it was the Epson ink and Premium Glossy Borderless Photo Paper.
-- Bob Mathews(Good point, Bob. At home you can squeeze everything out of the data. Machine prints will always be averaged, so to speak. -- Editor)
Wal-Mart pricing is pretty good, but if anyone in the U.S. wants to save some money, look to Canadian retailers/photo developers. Thanks to the Internet it doesn't matter where you live to upload your pictures. And thanks to the exchange rate the U.S. dollar is worth 30 percent more!
In Canada we have Blacks Photo (http://www.blackphoto.com) which is similar to Ritz. If you buy the 100 picture card it's only $34.99 (Canadian), which works out to approximately 25˘ U.S.
They print using Fuji (which I find is FAR superior to Kodak). There's a Blacks in every mall in every city and if you go to the store you can get your prints in one hour or the next day. You can take any media to the store to get prints, mugs etc. It's self-serve (and idiot-proof), so there's no one leaning over your shoulder while you make adjustments etc. to your pictures. The prints are spectacular in color and quality. There is a Web site for storing your pictures so you can share with others and they can purchase pictures too.
-- Iain(Good idea, Ian, but there's one problem. "Items cannot be shipped to a General Delivery Address, Post Office Box or to any address outside of Canada." -- Editor)
RE: There Really Is an Ed
Enjoyed the "Reset All" commentary. The more I use this thing the more material you have. Your help was great, thanks.
BTW, son Kyle is becoming the family photo guy. He has an eye for the right angle and light. And he got all the vacation pictures. I'll post them at Yahoo groups when I get home.
-- Ed(We think Kyle has discovered the one fool-proof way to avoid having your picture taken. Sounds like it may be time to buy a second digicam! -- Editor)
The New-York Historical Society (http://www.nyhistory.org) exhibition Remembering The Forgotten Ones: The Photographs of Milton Rogovin is on view through Sept. 14. Rogovin moved to Buffalo in 1938 to practice as an optometrist. After organizing Buffalo's optometrists union, he was labeled "Buffalo's Top Red" and was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee. He subsequently lost his optometry practice and decided to dedicate his life to photography. "My voice was essentially silenced," he said. "So I decided to speak out through photographs." Rogovin photographed Buffalo's African-American churches and its working people before, at the age of 63, turning his attention to Buffalo's poor. After cataract surgery in his 90s, he returned with Anne to photograph Buffalo's Lower West Side again for two years.
X-Rite (http://www.xrite.com) has acquired the assets of color management software company Monaco Systems. The $10.6 million asset purchase, funded by a combination of cash and stock, includes the entire Monaco line of color management products, all intellectual property and operating assets.
To celebrate the 100th anniversary of manned flight, the National Air and Space Museum (http://www.nasm.si.edu) will open a new $311 million facility dedicated to the history of flight. Dennis Biela and David Palermo of LightSpeed Media (http://www.lightspeedmedia.biz) have been engaged to photograph the aircraft and space artifacts at the new facility using state-of-the-art high resolution digital photography and Apple's QuickTime VR photographic immersive technology.
Kent Displays (http://www.kentdisplays.com) has licensed its Cholesteric "No Power" LCD technology to Eastman Kodak. The technology enables changeable displays that maintain images indefinitely without consuming power and can be viewed at a wide-angle in a range of lighting conditions. ChLCD technology is ideal for use in portable products like digicams where low power consumption, sunlight readability and high contrast are important design criteria.
FixerLabs (http://www.fixerlabs.com) has released three cross-platform Photoshop plug-ins to improve digital images. ShadowFixer ($17) corrects underexposure and enhances shadow detail. NoiseFixer ($17) minimizes noise from images. FocusFixer ($49) removes focus blur and enhances image detail.
Canon (http://www.usa.canon.com) has announced that its smallest and lightest Digital ELPH camera, the new PowerShot SD100, as well as their CP-200 and CP-300 Card Photo Printers, will be available this summer for suggested retail pricing of $499, $279 and $379, respectively.
FireWire Depot (http://fwdepot.com) has introduced the $29.95 DB-35U6in1, a 6-in-1 USB card reader supporting CompactFlash, SmartMedia, IBM Microdrive, MemoryStick , MultiMedia-Card and Secure Digital formats. The reader is "USB 1.1 full speed/USB 2.0 full speed compliant," according to the company.
HP (http://www.hp.com) has announced a thicker, glossier and heavier HP Premium Plus Photo paper, an expanded paper line and four new HP Deskjet printers. The new color inkjet printers include: the $149 Deskjet 5650 with fast speeds (laser-quality black at up to 21 pages per minute and color at up to 15 ppm), optional six-ink printing, 4,800-optimized dpi, edge-to-edge borderless up to 8.5x11-inch photo printing, and print quality selector button; the $99 Deskjet 5150 with optional six-ink printing, 4,800-optimized dpi, and edge-to-edge borderless up to 8.5x11-inch photo printing; the $79 Deskjet 3650 with optional six-ink printing, and borderless 4x6-inch photo printing; and the $39 Deskjet 3520 with up to 2400x1200-dpi color printing and crisp black from a single tri-color cartridge, and compact size with a fold-up paper tray.
Photoflex (http://www.photoflex.com) has published its 2003 interactive products catalog in print and on CD-ROM, showcasing its line of lighting products. The CD-ROM includes step-by-step instructions for the set-up and assembly of each Photoflex product and also provides eight free photographic lighting lessons.
For just $150 an insertion you can list your URL or 800 number here (up to a maximum of 70 text characters).
Curtin Short Courses: http://www.imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?bdc
Fast Ritz CF cards: http://imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?ritzmem
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